Wednesday, January 25, 2012

On Justice

"When justice is present, tranquility transcends a land much like the calm, flowing waters of the Niagara. When justice is absent, there is outright unrest; equilibrium in society is disturbed, and progress is paralyzed. Absent justice can be felt as impactfully as the waters gushing from the hoses of police spraying civil rights marchers. It stings. While these raging waters did not kill the civil rights workers, it forcefully halted their functions for the time. Absent justice has the same effect on society. Justice that is selectively present or disparately applied is no less deleterious. Disparate justice leaves a sect of society disconnected and breeds a spirit of divisiveness. Much like a person standing knee-deep in the murky, debris-filled swamp waters of Louisiana, those on the receiving end of disparate justice see what is across from them and know it is within close reach, but experience great frustration knowing they can only get to it if they fight great resistance."

~ Angela A. Allen-Bell, from 'Bridge Over Troubled Waters and Passageway on a Journey to Justice: National Lessons Learned About Justice From Louisiana's Response to Hurricane Katrina' in the California Western Law Review, Spring 2010

Sunday, January 22, 2012

OMG! Red Tails!!

I've seen "Red Tails" now and the Boxer and I give it an enthusiastic four thumbs up. We all watched "Roots" in 1977 and were suitably impressed by the fact that someone would be allowed to portray the nightmare of Black oppression during slavery. Then, in 1985, we all watched "The Color Purple" and were suitably impressed that a movie about Black people surviving their pain could make it to the big time. Now, in "Red Tails," we finally have the opportunity to watch Black people outshine -- and even save -- White people just because they were better at flying and fighting than anybody else doing it at the time. It's a matter of public record, y'all, but who expected to see it done like this?

Friday, January 20, 2012

"Red Tails"

"Red Tails," the story of the Tuskegee Airmen, arguably one of the most heroic tales of all time and certainly one of the most inspiring chapters in the Black struggle for respect in the United States, opens today at theaters across the country. One would think that such a film would be a slam dunk for attention, recognition and support. After all, it was produced by George Lucas of Star Wars fame (and who better to offer us heart-stopping aerial dog fights?). It was directed by Anthony Hemingway who was part of the directorial team for the award-winning and highly touted television series, "The Wire." And it stars most of the finest young Black male actors in or even near Hollywood of late (including Terrence Howard and Cuba Gooding, Jr.).

Cast & Director of Red Tails with former Tuskegee Airman Roscoe Brown

But it turns out that's a problem. It features so many fine Black actors, there just weren't any major roles left for White folks at all. Gracious. In fact, the lack of White actors meant that nobody would step up to help Lucas fund it (so it took him twenty years to get it done). Once produced, nobody wanted to distribute it, claiming they didn't know how to go about marketing a movie without appeal to White audiences (and why would White people want to watch a bunch of African-Americans saving White bomber pilots?).

So the deal is this: if "Red Tails" doesn't make a boatload of money, George Lucas takes a financial beating for risking his reputation to make such a film, Black directors like Hemingway will continue to be shut out of the making of high budget movies, and Black actors will remain, too often, tokens of color in stories that forever feature Whites. Lucas, the film, and the Tuskegee Airmen deserve better.

Frankly, I have my concerns about the presentation of this film at this time. I'm concerned that it glorifies war at a time when the American public should be gut sick of dying in and paying for wars, wars and more wars all over the world. I'm concerned that economically and emotionally discouraged young Black men will follow the dashing young heroes on the screen down the yellow brick road to fight today's battles for old White politicians. And I'm concerned that Black folks will turn out en mass, but mostly only Black folks, "proving" yet again that Whites won't pay to watch a movie that's not about Whites.

But all that notwithstanding, I know I'm gonna love "Red Tails." I might just see it twice. And I hope you'll go, as well. With all your friends and relatives. And "like" the Facebook site. And, when the time comes, buy the DVD. ;^)

Monday, January 16, 2012

Hear, Hear

"The history of any country, presented as the history of a family, conceals fierce conflicts of interest (sometimes exploding, most often repressed) between conquerors and conquered, master and slaves, capitalists and workers, dominators and dominated in race and sex. And in such a world of conflict, a world of victims and executioners, it is the job of thinking people, as Albert Camus suggested, not to be on the side of the executioners.” ~ Dr. Martin L. King Jr., “Beyond Vietnam – A Time to Break Silence,” April 4, 1967

Sunday, January 15, 2012


A couple of months ago, I received the following email.  I don't think it needs comment from me to get the point across, do you?

"Hi. I'm in your Racial and Ethnic Relations class. I recently had an experience and I don't know what to make of it. I had to bring my son to turn in a paper I was walking around campus with my son in his stroller, I started to notice the way people were looking at me. I knew the look because you get it from teachers and co-workers all the time. It's that look people give you when they are associating your race with some kind of negativity. I've been getting that look my whole life so I know it when I see it.

Friday, January 13, 2012

The MisAdventures of Awkward Black Girl

This is not clever, ingenius, intelligent, funny and entertaining because it's about being Black. It's not. It's clever, ingenius, intelligent, funny, and entertaining, all right. But it's about being human and it just happens to be done by a Black woman. A very clever, ingenius, intelligent, funny and entertaining Black woman. For real. With more available at Awkward Black Woman. Enjoy. And remember you first saw it here. (You're gonna love me for this.)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A. Phillip Randolph, Organizer Extraordinaire

"Justice is never given; it is exacted and the struggle must be continuous ~ for freedom is never a final fact, but a continuing evolving process to higher and higher levels of human, social, economic, political and religious relationship." A. Phillip Randolph, who demonstrated how to make 'em listen

Monday, January 09, 2012

On This Day in History

The perception that many people in the United States have is that Africans were helpless victims of their own inability to protect themselves from their "betters" (that would be the White Europeans, of course) and that, as a result, they sort of "deserved" whatever came after that. The 30 million or so who died crossing the Atlantic from abuse, disease, starvation, suicide, or just being thrown overboard so the White slavers (all God-fearing men, needless to say) could avoid prosecution for the crime of being slavers were just collateral damage, as it were. Mutinies on slave ships with the exception of The Amistad have been largely ignored. And the African-American uprisings that have occurred in the past one hundred years have invariably been called "riots" and used to suggest that Black folks are that know?

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Les Twins!

It occurs to me that this is just one example of why White Supremacy is a joke. It also occurs to me that any group that can produce things of this caliber in absolutely every category of human endeavor (especially under the literal lash of unrelenting oppression) will never be utterly bested. Maybe this is why White folks stress so much. Ya think?

Monday, January 02, 2012

Body and Soul

On January 14th, 2006, I published the first post on this blog site.  It read:

When I wrote the end of last September that I was going to start blogging only on the topic of what I call the "socially-constructed, political notion of 'race'," I really thought I meant a few days later. Apparently, I meant three months later. Regardless, I hope to have a book on race (the story of my life, actually) published this year. Then, I'd like to travel around and tell people what I've got on my mind. But in the meantime, while I work on a couple more books and teach and live my life and all, I'll do this, too.

I did my first piece of research on race in 1963 (I was sixteen) on racial discrimination in the area in which I lived with my college-educated, white-bred (pun intended) parents and four younger brothers and sisters. Years in the prison abolition movement, years on welfare, and years in college and grad school later, I am still learning about "race." And talking about it. Loudly. And writing about it. Passionately.